The Food Biz: Viva the Vista

Silo to serve Southern-influenced bistro fare from Vista Germantown space

A prominent Nashville chef is opening a new restaurant in a high-profile spot in the Germantown neighborhood north of downtown.

Clay Greenberg, former executive chef at Virago and Lime, has staked out the restaurant space in Vista Germantown, a luxury apartment complex under construction at Fifth Avenue North and Madison Street. The restaurant will be called Silo, and Greenberg’s partner in the venture is Paul Cercone, a veteran of the dynamic food scene in Charleston, S.C.

Silo’s location is across the street from Germantown Café and just blocks from City House (chef Tandy Wilson’s spot) and the venerable Mad Platter, giving the neighborhood a boost as a mini fine-dining district. (Also in the vicinity: Southern stalwart Monell’s, the much-lauded Cupcake Collection, chocolate truffle palace Cocoa Tree, and the Drink Haus coffeehouse. Not to mention King Fish, home of an exalted Southern-fried fish sandwich.)

I talked to the genial Greenberg in a quiet moment between his two current jobs: cooking at The Local Taco in Sylvan Park, and planning the ascendency of Silo. He described Silo in the following carefully crafted way: “A Southern-influenced neighborhood bistro which will feature a creative, chef-driven menu with a focus on the bounty of regional farmers, ranchers, dairymen and producers.”

There’s a lot crammed into that one sentence, so let’s break it down. “Chef-driven” is a key turn of phrase. Greenberg is a classically trained chef, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute. His business partner Cercone is an experienced food guy who co-founded the Normandy Farm bakery in Charleston. Cercone will run the front of the house. To help run the kitchen, Greenberg is recruiting an executive chef, Larry Carlile.

“Chef-driven” is also code for making everything from scratch, as Greenberg pledges to do. No chain-restaurant-style pre-fab sauces. And none of the shortcuts that many a Southern meat-and-three has succumbed to, such as canned vegetables.

“Neighborhood bistro” refers to, well, the neighbors. Germantown is a strongly residential urban district, with a good number of folks living within short walking distance — not to mention the 240-plus residents expected to move into the Vista Germantown complex. “And we have the only retail spot there,” Greenberg said, laughing. “Score and a half!”

In addition, the word “bistro” traditionally indicates a moderate price point. Greenberg said it’s too soon to be specific about menu prices, but plates will be affordable without being skimpy.

“Bounty of regional farmers” hits another component — local ingredients. “Paul and I really wanted to do ‘farm to fork’ cuisine,” Greenberg said. “I’m on the board of the West Nashville Farmers’ Market,” he added. “I’ve got a pretty good list of farmers I can work with.”

The menu will change not only seasonally, but almost daily, depending on what local vegetables, meats and dairy are available, the chef said. He also plans to cure his own meats for a charcuterie platter.
Silo is expected to open in early spring. Architect Greg Ibañez is designing the space, and construction could begin as soon as next week.

New and Neapolitan

Porta Via Italian Kitchen, which has been luring crowds to an unassuming shopping strip on White Bridge Road since it opened in late 2009, is close to opening a second location in Cool Springs.

One of the credentials that Porta Via touts is “authentic Neapolitan pizza,” created to the exacting standards of Italy’s Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. Here are the criteria as Porta Via described them when it announced its official AVPN certification in April:

“Quality ingredients, including tomatoes harvested from Italy’s Mt. Vesuvius region, the freshest mozzarella and 00 (doppio zero) flour supplied directly from Naples; absolutely no mechanical methods used to create or press the dough; baking in a specially crafted wood-fire oven constructed in a bell shape from volcanic rock.”

To open the Cool Springs restaurant, Porta Via had to import not one but two of those special volcanic ovens. No easy task, but finally everything’s in place, and the grand opening will be at 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 14, with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting led by Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson and Franklin City Mayor Ken Moore. (Dueling mayors! Divided by jurisdictional lines but united by a love of pizza!)

The new Porta Via in Cool Springs is at 3301 Aspen Grove Drive, just off Cool Springs Boulevard. It will operate 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.